The Clash

From Here to Eternity: Live

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Years after the Clash disintegrated, their live performances remained legendary, partially because most things concerning the band entered rock legend. Bootlegs offered proof of those great performances, but only hardcore collectors would seek those out, which is why From Here to Eternity: Live, the Clash's first official live album, is a welcome addition to their catalog -- it confirms that the legend is deserved. Sequenced as "the ultimate live concert," as so many compiled live albums are, this is one time the trick actually works. All the performances were recorded between 1978 and 1982, but they're sequenced according to the date of the song, not the date of the performance. Consequently, the album divides roughly in half, as the first nine songs are devoted to The Clash and Give 'Em Enough Rope, with the rest of the record comprised of songs from London Calling and its successors. That doesn't necessarily mean that the performance is taken from the same era as the song, however. The amazing thing is that the performances all sound like they're taken from the same show. From Here to Eternity has genuine momentum, rushing through its 17 songs at a furious pace -- things don't slow down until "Armagideon Time," the 11th song in. Only after the album is finished does it sink in that it is indeed sequenced chronologically, since it has the feel of a set list. More importantly, it's impossible to tell when each song was recorded. "Career Opportunities" sounds as if it were recorded at a packed, sweaty London club, but it was taken from tapes of the band's opening set for the Who at Shea Stadium in the fall of 1982. That's not the only incident of such historical sleight of hand, either. Throughout the first portion of the album, early and latter-day performances blend seamlessly, creating the illusion that everything on the record was from one dynamic, relentlessly exciting show. By doing so, From Here to Eternity: Live offers undeniable proof of the Clash's greatness -- this was a band that sounded every bit as good in its final days as it did in its first. (This, of course, is discounting the post-Mick Jones Clash.) But the best thing about the album is that it never sounds like a historical project or an archival release, because it is such a captivating listen. From the opening chords of "Complete Control" to the closing notes of "Straight to Hell," From Here to Eternity is an invigorating record, teeming with life and energy. It's a live album worthy of a band as legendary as the Clash.

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